Montana Politics

Another Breathtakingly Stupid Editorial from the Missoulian

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I’m not sure who writes the editorials for the Missoulian, but either there has been some turnover or, in order to increase their dwindling readership, the editorials deliberately alternate between reasonable and breathtakingly stupid. Today is certainly the latter—and lazy to go along with it.

I understand that the Lee Newspapers in the state have decided they’re not really going to cover news. That’s expensive, and they have large executive salaries to pay. I can live with that; I have for most of my life. What I can’t really accept is that refusal to cover news legitimizes lazy and inaccurate editorials.

What did the Missoulian have to say?

Meanwhile, formal complaints have been filed with the state accusing the governor of breaking elections law.

Did Schweitzer in fact use his influence in an attempt to sway an election? Or did he just say so to make himself out as a deep pool in a shallow ocean?

Either way, his “joke” insults residents of the state’s seven Indian reservations by suggesting they had to be guarded from Republican poll-watchers. It insults elections officials of Butte-Silver Bow by suggesting they manipulated the release of county votes. And he insults everyone in Montana when he portrays us as backwater naifs easily exploited by a savvy political mind.

Yes, some serious formal complaints have been issued. Before one writes an editorial, one might consider reading the news in the newspaper. When the ‘formal complaint’ comes from a Republican activist with no connection to the charges, as Chuck Johnson reported in the Missoulian, maybe that detail should be included in the editorial. When the other complaint, totally unrelated to the speech, was already thrown out of court, maybe that detail should be included.

When the editorial suggests that Schweitzer insulted residents of the Indian reservations, shouldn’t there have been some news coverage to show that insult? It’s not appearing in your stories. More importantly, why don’t the Montana papers cover the underlying issue—that Republicans have and do use voter intimidation to drive voters from the polls, especially in low-income and predominantly minority areas? Now that’s shameful, and deserves coverage, along with indignant editorials.

The other day I wondered why Republicans believe elections are more about generating outrage over feigned offense than about the issues that matter to Montanans. This Missoulian editorial provides the answer: because it’s a lot easier to write an ill-informed editorial than to invest in deep news coverage, the Republicans are exploiting the traditional media’s unwillingness to cover what matters.

No one argues that the remarks weren’t ill-advised. But for the Republicans and the media who are flogging this dead horse, I have a simple suggestion: do your jobs. Prove this accusation. Find someone willing to testify under oath that Governor Schweitzer violated election laws. Until you do can do that, go back to covering the UM mascot.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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